Finals Preview: Central Coast Mariners v Adelaide United

Central Coast Mariners host Adelaide United in an Elimination Final in Gosford this afternoon for a place in next week's Semi Finals - kick-off 4.30pm AEST.

Central Coast Mariners host Adelaide United in an Elimination Final in Gosford this afternoon for a place in next week's Semi Finals - kick-off 4.30pm AEST.

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Head-to-head:

Played: 28, Wins: Central Coast 14, Adelaide 8, Draws: 6

Previous encounter:

Adelaide 2-0 Central Coast, February 14 2014

Form:

Past five matches: Central Coast: LWLWW Adelaide: LDWWD

The Game:

A place in the semi-finals is up for grabs as Central Coast and Adelaide face the prospect of Saturday being their final day of the season. Josep Gombau's Reds outfit come into the finals in unconvincing form, while the Mariners may have been on a high before John Hutchinson's own goal cost them a point against FC Seoul in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday. The fitness of Phil Moss' squad remains a big question ahead of the clash at Central Coast Stadium, while Adelaide's form and record at the ground is poor.

The big issue:

Mariners – questions remain over just how big an impact mid-week action has on Moss' side, especially after conceding such a heartbreaking late goal. Central Coast looked on track to secure a key point in Group F, only for Hutchinson to beat goalkeeper Liam Reddy, who had kept the Mariners in the game. What kind of psychological blow such a loss is remains to be seen. Moss has rotated his squad well throughout the busy period, and has Bernie Ibini, Nick Fitzgerald and Mitchell Duke relatively fresh.

Adelaide – can Gombau's side overcome what has been a dreadful record at Bluetongue, as well as their unpredictable recent form? Adelaide have just three wins in 13 visits to the venue, and failed to win their last two games of the regular season against opposition who missed out on the finals. But they can take some comfort from their efforts against the Mariners this season, having claimed 2-0 and 4-0 wins in their past two meetings. A slick playing surface will also suit their style.

The game breaker:

Fabio Ferreira – the Portuguese star has enjoyed a strong campaign and taking on the Mariners has suited him. Ferreira netted in both of Adelaide's win over Central Coast this season, and should fancy his chances if Josh Rose starts at left-back as expected. The Reds need to get Ferreira involved as often as possible, with his pace, trickery and crossing ability a key for them if they are to reach the semi-finals.

* The Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United will wear black armbands and hold a minute-s silence at today's Elimination Final as a mark of respect for Young Socceroo Dylan Tombides who lost his battle with cancer overnight.

Saturday, 19 April 2014 Hyundai A-League 2014 Elimination Final 1 Central Coast Mariners (3) v Adelaide United (6) Central Coast Stadium, Gosford Kick-off: 4.30pm local (4:30pm AEST)

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